Black History Month Resources

To celebrate this Black History Month, we wanted to highlight resources that discuss the origins of the celebration itself as well as the issues that have stemmed from the issues that some scholars and critics have raised about Black History Month. These resources, and the intent behind sharing them, echoes that of our Antiracist Resource Guide, which we created in the late Spring of 2020 to encourage the use of resources that either address the systemic racism within the academic disciplines or elevate the Black voices within those disciplines.

Scott, D. (2011). Origins of Black History Month. https://asalh.org/about-us/origins-of-black-history-month/.
Dr. Daryl Scott, professor of History at Howard University and President of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History from 2013-15, provides a concise, yet detailed history of Black History Month.

Sadler, J. (2015). School curricula, infusion of African and African American content in. In M. Shujaa, & K. Shujaa (Eds.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of African Cultural Heritage in North America (pp. 756-759). SAGE Publications, Inc. DOI:10.4135/9781483346373.n262.
“Because it is important for a people to know their history and culture and to pass that knowledge on to future generations, for centuries African descendants have attempted to discover, present, and maintain their knowledge. The struggle not only to preserve the history of African Americans but also to transmit knowledge of that history to present and future generations has been a long and hard-fought one, with many champions for its cause. This struggle has taken many forms, among the latest of which are school curriculum infusion programs. This entry describes the background of these programs and specifically details the African American Infusion Project in the Buffalo, New York, public school district as an example of a contemporary effort to infuse U.S. school curricula with African and African American content.” Entry description.

King, L.J. (2014). Once a year to be Black: Fighting against typical Black History Month pedagogies. The Negro Educational Review, 65(1-4).
“Our study examined the experiences of three middle school teachers who created their own Black History Month curriculum. Although, the relevance of Black History Month is under scrutiny by opponents who feel it marginalized the history of Black Americans, proponents of this position have failed: to account for teachers who view and use this Month to challenge passive approaches to teaching Black history and to provide for the overreliance on traditional historical sources. Our goal was to uncover various ways in which teachers navigate or interrupt "official curriculum" that marginalizes the history of Black Americans. Findings suggest that Black History Month teaching operates in both transgressive and regressive ways that require more scholarly attention and consideration to tease out appropriate pedagogies.” Abstract from author.

Doharty, N. (2019). ‘I FELT DEAD’: applying a racial microaggressions framework to Black students’ experiences of Black History Month and Black History. Race Ethnicity and Education, 22(1), 110-129. DOI:10.1080/13613324.2017.1417253
“This paper uses a Critical Race Theory perspective to explain the everyday racisms –racial microaggressions –directed towards students of African and Caribbean descent during a non-statutory Black History unit, at an English secondary school. Applying the racial microaggressions framework provided by Huber and Solórzano (2015) to ethnographic data, this paper finds that experiences of studying Black History by students of African and Caribbean descent are dominated by various types of racial microaggressions including: micro-invalidation, micro-insults, and micro-assaults (Sue et al. 2007). These experiences are symptomatic of wider racist structures and processes withinthe National Curriculum for History, based upon the ideology of White supremacy. This paper concludes that the racial microaggressions framework allows for useful ways of thinking about the function and purpose of Black History Month and Black History in schools, and its opportunities for exposing wider institutional and ideological underpinnings that legitimate deficit understandings about Black people in school classrooms.” Abstract from Author.

Van de Mieroop, K. (2016). On the advantage and disadvantage of Black History Month for life: The creation of the post-racial era. History and Theory, 55(1), 3-24. DOI:10.1111/hith.10784
“This article takes the Nietzschean dictum that history must "serve life" as a point of departure for an analysis of the American institution of Black History Month. Many continue to place great faith in the power of historical education to solve problems of race in America. Against this common-sense view, this article argues that the excessive historicization of the problem of racism is at least as oppressive as forgetting. The black history propagated during this month has mostly been a celebration that it is history and thus a thing of the past. The article makes the claim that it is precisely a surfeit of black history that has encouraged the view that racism is vanishing in the river of time. The constant demand to view American racism through a historical frame has led to the perception that racism is a problem that must be historically transcended rather than solved. In other words, it is through the widespread dissemination of black history during Black History Month and elsewhere that the historical category of the post-racial era has been constituted. The postracial era is not, as is so often claimed, a denial of historical context. On the contrary, it is an assertion that the horrors of racist discrimination were once real but are now over and done with.” Abstract from author.

Landa, M. (2012). Deconstructing Black History Month: Three African American boys’ exploration of identity. Multicultural Perspectives, 14(1), 11–17. DOI:10.1080/15210960.2012.646638
“Every February, schools celebrate Black History Month and teachers teach the grand narrative of famous African Americans such as Martin Luther King, Jr. While the stories communicate bravery, they are also about racism and violence. Here, through narrative inquiry, a teacher deconstructs Black History Month, inviting student responses to stories she shares.” Abstract from author.

Tilghman, S., Cooper, O., & Parker, M. (2013). More than a month. PBS Distribution.
“Shukree Hassan Tilghman, a 29-year-old African-American filmmaker, sets out on a cross-country campaign to end Black History Month. He stops in various cities, wearing a sandwich board, to solicit signatures on his petition to end the observance. He explains that relegating Black History Month to the coldest, shortest month of the year is an insult, and that black history is not separate from American history. Through this thoughtful and humorous journey, he explores what the treatment of history tells us about race and equality in a “post-racial” America.
His road trip begins in Washington, D.C., crisscrosses the country during Black History Month 2010, and ends with an epilogue one year later. Each stop along the journey explores Black History Month as it relates to four ideas: education, history, identity, and commercialism.
Tilgman’s campaign to end Black History Month is actually a provocative gambit to open a public conversation about the idea of ethnic heritage months, and whether relegating African American history to the shortest month of the year — and separating it from American history on the whole — denigrates the role of Black people and Black culture throughout American history. But it is also a seeker’s journey to reconcile his own conflicting feelings about his own identity, history, and convictions.
More Than a Month is not just about a yearly tradition, or history, or being black in America. It is about what it means to be an American, to fight for one’s rightful place in the American landscape, however unconventional the means, even at the risk of ridicule or misunderstanding. It is a film is about discovering oneself.” Publisher description. Watch the trailer on Youtube.

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